We were outraged to learn that MLA candidates in Dartmouth-Preston had their election signs defaced with racist graffiti. This blatantly racist act must be taken as another wake-up call for white people to fight the deeply embedded racism in our province. Racism in Nova Scotia cannot continue to be tolerated.
The Dartmouth-Preston electoral district is home to the historical African Nova Scotian communities of North Preston, East Preston, and Cherry Brook. The former district of Preston was created in 1993 to give voice to African Nova Scotian communities at the legislature. Despite this, the area has not had an African Nova Scotian representative since 1999. There is a clear under-representation of our African Nova Scotian communities in the Nova Scotia legislature, and in all levels of government.
The ugly defacement of the election signs of two African Nova Scotian Candidates, in a predominantly Black riding, is just one example of the everyday racism experienced by Black people here in Nova Scotia. The vandalism of these signs must not be seen as an isolated incident, but understood within a larger context of systemic racism and white supremacy. The problem runs deep.
It’s not hard to point to countless other examples anti-Black racism in Nova Scotia, including street checks by Halifax Police, the racial profiling of an African Nova Scotian shopper at Sobeys, and anti-Black racism in the workplace at Leon’s and across the province.
This is not the work of just one vandal, or one police officer, or one store owner. This is the problem of a larger culture – one that condones outright expressions of racism, one that continues to criminalize Black bodies and profits off the underpaid labour of Black workers.
As we criticize the rise of Trump and the alt-right south of the border, we need to be mindful of what is happening right here in our backyards. We need to denounce outright expressions of hatred, whether it’s a Nazi symbol on an election sign or the flying of the confederate flag. We must recognize the systemic racism that is pervasive in our communities. We must recognize that racialized communities experience many barriers to participating in local politics and decision making power. We must fight discrimination in all aspects our society – in politics, in employment, in housing, in education. And we must work towards a world free from racism, white supremacy, and poverty.